Equality – What if we weren’t afraid?

8 03 2017

 We as humans have a tendency to live from a position of self-preservation, we are fearful that anything gained by, or given to, another will occur at our expense so we carefully protect the things we already have; things like possessions, positions, places, power, rights and security both real and perceived.  On days like today, International Women’s Day, when we take a closer look at gender-based differences in that list of things I wonder how much of those differences continue to exist because of fear.

As a woman in a male-centric vocation, and as mother to three daughters I live with a very present awareness of gender-based inequalities.  I had a whole bunch of statistics bearing testimony to the actual inequity that is real-life for women in America in spite of all the right things we say on paper; the stats for the majority of women living outside western democratic cultures are even more profoundly sobering; but you can see those numbers easily in lots of places today if you choose to look so I won’t list them again here.  And, if you believe we as women are misrepresenting or exagerating the inequality we experience daily, my handful of words added to the others is unlikely to change your mind.

However, if we do recognize the continuing inequality that exists between genders, knowing that inequality enacted between people is out of alignment with the model Jesus gave, what if we truly acted from what we say we believe?  What if we stopped guarding what we already have?  What if we viewed our rights as resources to be shared?  What if giving has less to do with money and more to do with privelege?  What if we thought about generosity as it relates to our power?  What if we really were as concerned about others as we were ourselves?  What if we were willing to risk everything for someone else?  What if we weren’t afraid?

Book Review – The CEB Women’s Bible

2 11 2016

I don’t typically review books here on my blog, but a few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to receive a copy of The CEB Women’s Bible in exchange for an unbiased review. Since I only have about 30 bound editions of the Bible, and more digital editions than I’ve actually counted I obviously needed one more, and so I eagerly jumped on this opportunity.Reviewing The Bible is frankly, a little intimidating. It’s not like I’m going to take issue with the author’s use of a literary device, or give a “thumbs-up” for an unexpected plot twist. Instead, I’m simply evaluating and giving an opinion on how well this translation and supporting material handles the sacred text of Scripture.

The Contemporary English Bible (CEB) translation; completed in 2011 by a group of 150 male and female translators from a broad cross-section of Christian faith traditions, certainly provides an accessible and inclusive English translation that resides firmly and reliably in the contemporary language space. That, however, is not what I appreciate most about this Bible. I already had both print and digital editions of the CEB, and I didn’t expect to be particularly impressed by what I assumed would be the addition of a floral cover and a decorative font. With 80 editors and contributors to this edition; every one of them a woman, The CEB Women’s Bible is more than just a prettier Bible, and these editors and contributors surprised me with the thoroughness and thoughtfulness of the supporting material that has been added.

Each Book is prefaced with an Introduction, providing historical and cultural context, and every chapter has at least one Reflection, drawing more focused attention to a particular theme or topic. Scattered throughout the text are over 200 Sidebars. These are brief, topical articles that encourage the reader toward a practical and current application of scripture in their own life. The choice to encapsulate the Sidebar material within a pink text box is an outdated and somewhat tired feminization treatment that could have been given more creative effort, but that doesn’t diminish the content. I did appreciate both the alphabetical and canonical Index of all Sidebar Articles. The main extra that sets this Bible apart is the inclusion of another Index of every named and unnamed woman in the Bible with 100 character sketches (Portraits,) providing additional context and commentary on these women and their place within the Story of God.

There are also 16, full color, gridded Maps with accompanying legends to facilitate the plotting of over 1,000 named locations. Although the nerd in me is kind of impressed by the detail here, realistically I might reference it a dozen times over the course of a year, so not a feature that would entice me to purchase this edition. But, the back of the Bible also contains a section of Discussion and Reflection Questions organized around the Scripture readings from the Revised Common Lectionary for the entire 3-year (A,B,C) cycle, and I am in love with this feature! I am so looking forward to utilizing this tool with a Small Group or Spiritual Development class in the coming year. I am also a strong advocate for an intentional Bible reading plan so I was glad to see the inclusion of three different reading plans; One Month Bible Overview Plan, New Testament in 90 Days Plan, and Bible in One Year Plan.

With regard to the book specs; the edition I received for review was a printed hardcover with no jacket, and laid flat from anywhere in the book. The paper is light weight, smooth white. It allowed noticeable ghosting when I used my Sharpie ultra fine tip markers, but very little with colored pencils. The text is a standard-sized serif font with narrow margins. The single column format does help with ease of reading, and there is white space at the end of most books to allow for limited note-taking.

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this edition as much as I have. There are some important and useful elements to this Bible that highlight and affirm the position of women as equal bearers of the image of God, and I genuinely appreciate having the name and position of every editor and contributor listed, with attribution also given alongside each Introduction, Sidebar, Reflection, and Portrait. It gives wonderful contrast to the generations of women who have remained invisible and nameless in carrying forth the message and mission of God.
Let me know if you’re planning to purchase a copy of The CEB Women’s Bible and would like to join in an online study group working from the Discussion & Reflection Questions!